Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Hey, Mr. Reporter, How 'Bout Talkin' About Yourself...

Well, it's April 30th. I promised it would be up by month's end...

Here it is.

Don't worry, I'll still be on here to bitch about my personal life. The VIP club that is all two of you who read this blog will continue to exist.

That reminds me. A new poll is up on this site, requesting your input on the layout of this site's parallel blog.

Sometime today/tonight I'm going to write another review for the new site, then make it public on Facebook. That's better than just the one, don't you think?

Concerning this past weekend: Andy's show kicked ass. Seeing Eric and Sarah again made me all the more anticipatory of the beach trip this August. The next day Eric and Maddie came to visit, and we had a nice time. While sitting outside Starbucks, a man casually walked by in a leather jacket and a skirt. I have to say, I have not seen Eric laugh so hard since we saw Wedding Crashers, specifically Will Ferrel's "Ma, the meatloaf! FUCK!" Anyway, seeing them is always good.

I've got one final left, and it's for Cultures Of Modern Europe. Given that my Astronomy professor decided to drop our lowest test scores (including the final), I was shocked to see on the test yesterday that he was taking no prisoners...that was brutal. Still, I did the math, and even if I bombed the final, with the dropped test score I'll have earned a B+. If I did better than an 80%, I'll be in the A- range.

Yeah, it surprised me, too.

No word from Squalus Maximus recently...who cares? Anyone?

The Czech Literature final I over-studied for. But that's fine. If you ever need any information relating to Czech poetry or prose between 1890 and the 1970's, let me be your go-to guy.

Figuring out the readings for my independent study on The Kinks has been tough. One book heavily discusses the album Think Visual (1986), though at the same time features little to nothing on Sleepwalker (1977) and Misfits (1978), so cross-referencing my sources has been necessary. If it turns out all I had to do was state what books I would be reading, I might just have to slam my head onto my desk.

I'll be back sooner or later this week. Since I'm up, I might as well start packing for my epic move-out.


PS - The title of this entry comes from an unreleased Kinks song proving Dave Davies could do a better Dylan vocal than Dylan.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Funniest Video Ever

One of my favorite types of visual humor is where a relatively serious conversation is going on while in the background any sort of surreal, slapstick, or chaotic situation is going on.

Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you said sight gag performed to the utmost:

If you're into music that sounds like it's from another planet, check out The Residents. Can't go wrong with dudes in tuxes with eyeballs for heads, right?

Also: I'm starting up a collection so that I can dress like this for Halloween. You have six months.


Friday, April 25, 2008

Light At The End Of The Tunnel


When I set foot outside this morning, it was awfully reminiscent of that scene in the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy steps out of her house into Munchkin Land. Colors were brighter, the air smelled better, and food tasted better.

My paper for Cultures of Modern Europe on the Italian Neorealist movement got a B-. Apparently explaining the formation and influence of that movement in cinema doesn't count as historical content. Luckily, at the exact same moment I'd been handed my semester evaluation form. All that came across my mind was, "You've asked for it...and now you're going to get it."

I urged him to reconsider altering the definition of the word "modern" to begin in 1900 and not in 1795, and that a class on "modern" Europe should better cover the 20th Century rather than blaze over World War II and the Holocaust in a single class session, completely ignore the British Invasion, have no mention of the Prague Invasion of August 1968 beyond a PowerPoint slide, and that the course's chronology ends in 1992, with the fall of Communism.

Another point I made was that, since he complained so much about textbook author Norman Davies (to my knowledge, no relation to Ray & Dave) for his conservative slant, his absolutist definition of the word "revolution," and that for whatever reason he focused primarily on the all-important European nation of Poland through his book, "if you think Davies' work is such codswallop, perhaps you should dump his book like a cheating girlfriend and use alternative sources of information."

My final comment:
"One last thing, you might not want to return poorly-graded essays at the same time you distribute course evaluations."

Thank God these things are anonymous.

Not even that could ruin my day. The weather was gorgeous, and my final class session of this insipid semester was Czech literature, where we watched a great film, one which I felt embodied the spirit of Czech culture: half giddy humor, half sobering realism. Bronislava Volkova is one of the three greatest teachers I've ever had.

Want to hear another great thing? I never have to see that little senile old lady who taught Intro To Russian Culture ever again. It would be SO easy to rip her a new one had she not been so NICE! Had she been a crusty old grump, when she asked class today if there was any way the class could be improved (sadly, no real course evaluations in this one), my hand would have shot up like a rocket.

Tell you what I am doing: going to Rate My Professor right now to write about each professor I had this semester: a hard-nosed but witty and knowledgeable Japanese man in his late 50's, a Russian national who's not got all of her marbles, a geeky but friendly astronomer, the epitome of stuffed-shirt pomposity that I have always associated in my mind with the word "professor", and a Czech poet turned exile. How's that for a ragtag group?

Only three finals next week: Czech Literature and Astronomy on Tuesday, Cultures of Modern Europe on Friday.

Here comes the weekend. About time.


PS - Saturday of Little 500 weekend, Eric Condon randomly called to tell me that another Alabama trip is on, August 16-23. Speaking of him, he'll be up tomorrow for Andy's show. Hope he likes my girlfriend!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Hi there. My name is Alex, and welcome to the Internet.

Work I've already done this week:
+ Three assignments for A100 (Astronomy), totaling about 7 or 8 pages.
+ Interpretive analysis of Czech author Karel Capek for C364, totaling 7 pages.

Work I still need to do this week:
+ Due tomorrow is my take-home final for D310 (Russian Revolution & Revolution). Each one is supposed to be between 4 and 5 pages. My topics are the Soviet Union during World War II and the expectations and disappointments of Nikita Khrushchev.
+ Due Thursday is my film diary for C364...honestly, I'm looking forward to this one.
+ As I learned today from a classmate, today was the first time Professor Perlina announced to the class that the final is in the form of an essay (thank God I checked the syllabus and got research materials last night from the library), expected length 10-12 pages. Since I'm at the point of as they say "phoning it in" in that class, my topic is a discussion of Sergei Eisenstein.

I don't even want to know what the grand total is for the pages I have to write. Remember last semester when all I had to do for a final essay was write a damn script? I miss those days.

This Friday I've got one last meeting with Heather over at Hot Topic to confirm WHEN I CAN START WORKING! I got the job, and I'm really excited about it. They'll work me when they can, which they can't promise too much during the summer, though the store's business picks up in mid-July, so I'll be able to go full-time before the 2008-2009 school year starts.

At which point I'll have a second job:
I've mentioned this before, but Andy has asked me to be his AI next fall for the Hendrix class and, yes, the Zappa class. In the spring I'll help out with the Zappa class, the blues class, and Rock Music of the 70's and 80's. It's too cool to only mention once.

Sorry things have been so busy. I'm sort of taking the night off from all the essay writing to update this and just relax for a bit before returning to the fray tomorrow morning.

There is one thing I need to do tonight: fill out my form for my independent study on The Kinks. This entails designing my own syllabus and outlining the structure for a semester course on my favorite band.

Yeah, a real chore.

The days keep stretching on, even Thursday night's new Office episode seems like a month away...Andy's show is Friday (if you're in Bloomington, or if you haven't considered it but wouldn't mind the company, by all means - give me a call letting me know you'll be in town), and I have three finals next week.

The papers seem tougher...

And Leon's getting larger!

I'll have the review-oriented blog up by the end of the month. I'm sure you'll enjoy my first picks for it.


Monday, April 21, 2008


When I get the chance, I will have every single thing I've been working on published here.

I'll be back Thursday.

Quick Update

Things are really busy right now. Five writing assignments in four classes. Two of them are take-home finals. Total page length: 45, if I'm lucky.

Just wanted to log in long enough to say this...

Fuck school.


Friday, April 11, 2008

Little 500 Weekend? Gay.

I'm about 20 hours away from getting out of a swamp of paperwork and other various tasks, hence the lack of updates.

First up, there's this.

Campus rent-a-cop brutality exacted upon privileged white brats? For the first time in a long time, possibly ever, I really don't know what side to be on with this one. I heard the dispensing of mace was initiated upon someone exclaiming "Fuck the police!", no doubt some stupid white frat boy quoting black rappers N.W.A., but also that the victims of the spray included a photographer for the IDS as well as a wheelchair-bound student.

DMX is the one who should be held most accountable regardless. He broke a contract, and then offered to serve alcohol to the crowd. Whoever booked him should have known that his late arrival (due to his insistence that he arrive in a black SUV) was a disaster waiting to happen; their plan of action, however disliked it may have been, should have involved them canceling the show with the promise of reimbursing ticketholders and suing DMX for breach of contract.

I really hope Aaron McGruder is inspired to turn this entire debacle into an episode of The Boondocks. I would love to write it for him.

In other news, it is my honor to inform you that I'm going to be Prof. Hollinden's grading assistant this next school year:
Fall 2008
Z402 - The Music Of Frank Zappa (Oh, yes.)
Z403 - The Music Of Jimi Hendrix

Spring 2009
Z301 - Rock Music Of The 70's & 80's (I'll be taking it this upcoming fall.)
Z385 - The History Of The Blues
Z402 - The Music Of Frank Zappa

I will also be helping to proctor exams in Dr. Gass' Beatles course.

Today, some pro-life militants were standing at Kirkwood and Indiana, mutilated fetus poster and all. One approached me and asked if I'd like a pamphlet.

"About what," I gruffly asked.

"About the murder of unborn babies, sir."

"No thanks, I'm not interested."

Another asked me what I thought of the poster. Being the rotten bastard I am, I responded, "Makes me hungry." A couple steps later, for effect, I shouted "HAIL SATAN!"

I heard one of them say, "You have a hardened heart!"

Better to have a hardened heart than a closed mind.

Keep it legal.

Whether you think it's wrong or not.


Monday, April 7, 2008

Cloud Nine

This entry will be quick and to the point:

My interview was this morning for the IMP. I'm in.

One of the professors suggested having a blog where all I did was review movies and albums...massive changes are underway. Stay tuned for more.


PS - This is so metal.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

In Memoriam...

This is my first time back since the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination.

Much like another man I have admired greatly since I was a child, John Lennon, this man was murdered. Murdered because someone disagreed with him.

"Why can't we work it out?
Why can't we sort it out?
We'll work it out if we try.
Why can't we sit down and work out a compromise,
Why not negotiate and try to be civilised?
I'll tell you why, because nobody gives a damn.
Nobody listens and no one will understand.

Nobody gives. Nobody gives a damn any more.
The politicians, unions, workers and the militants,
The fact of it is nobody gives any more."
- The Kinks, "Nobody Gives"

All this horseshit floats around about bombs being in the World Trade Center, debates over whether or not steel can warp in a fire, a missile hitting the Pentagon, rumors that our country has been run by an Illuminati for decades, that the moon landing was a hoax...why don't you guys get off your asses and challenge that the FBI killed Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.?

It's far more worth your time.

The man's impact on society is immeasurable, and yet racism is still protected under free speech in this country. I'm anti-censorship, but this is an ideology that does not need to exist in the modern world. Latent racism permeates our culture, whether it's Michael Savage implying Al Qaeda operatives sneak into this country from Mexico (since as you all know, Hispanics and Middle Easterners all look the same), or Obama's naysayers constantly mentioning his middle name is Hussein. But then you call them on it, and what's their response?

"It's his middle name, what's wrong with pointing out his middle name? If you have a problem with it, you're the racist!"

Such statements have been made by arrogant white dudes on Fox News like Bill O'Reilly.

Then again, he is very sensitive to race issues. He spoke about lynching Michelle Obama.
Oh, yeah, and this little gem...

I do not believe in the Occult, but indulge me as I communicate with a man who has not been among us for 40 years.

Dr. King, if it is God's will, see what you can do about a possible resurrection. We need you now more than ever. You were against the Vietnam War, embracing the true Christian ideology found in the Bible of turning the other cheek. You had a dream, and a simple one: that "little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers."

It was tragic you needed to preach this message to begin with, that the very idea of blacks being segregated against, acts of racist terrorism, denial of voting rights, and one man being another's property were all considered acceptable in America. Nevertheless, you were a voice to the voiceless.

The tactic you advocated above all else, nonviolence, demonstrated what can be achieved by simply standing up to authority, looking them right in the face, and saying, "No." You encouraged protesters to not fight back while being clubbed, sprayed with fire hoses, or attacked by police dogs.

And it worked.

I admire you greatly, Reverend. You weren't a politician. The message you preached was not limited to podiums and sermons. That wasn't enough for you. You walked on the front lines of protest marches. I would love to see Hillary or even Obama summon up the gall to organize an antiwar march on Washington, and then lead the crowds.

You weren't afraid to go to jail for following your calling. Instead of throwing in the towel, you remained active. If they threw you into a cell, you wrote words of inspiration, words that impacted your generation and will continue to do so until the end of time.

While the only fear I have of jail is that the Patriot Act could keep me in custody for an indefinite period without even knowing the charges, you are a better man than I in that you didn't even fear death:

"We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people will get to the promised land. And I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord."

Twenty-four hours later you were cut down by an assassin's bullet. You delivered that speech in light of a bomb threat on your plane.

You had a dream, and you paid the ultimate price for it. If there is an afterlife - and I believe there is - and if you are allowed to see what the mortal world is doing, I'm sure you have seen that in your death you live on. Your words have been made all the more sacred - as they should be. Your message will never die.

I promise to you that in my lifetime, your dream will be fulfilled.


Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Declaration Of War

Comrades, Statesmen, Fellow Dignitaries:

A preemptive strike against Willkie N1114B was waged by us in the early hours of April 1, 2008. A trash can filled with water was leaned against our enemy's gate. I had the honor of pounding his door, no doubt interrupting his unsuspecting slumber, before dashing to a safe point of retreat.

A sardonic response from Klein was sent shortly thereafter, where Operation: Water Can and its aftereffects were treated as benign tomfoolery. He mused that since I had given him water and (several months ago) shaving cream, when I was going to give him a shave.

It cannot be stated more clearly that the actions taken were meant to enforce malice, not an affirmation of friendship. It is far too late, I am afraid, for a peaceable solution to be met.

And so, comrades, it is with nothing less than the greatest sentiment of sadness and regret that I must impart to you a formal declaration of a prank war on one David W. Klein. Due to his unhealthy, alien-like physique, it is easy for one to assume he is not a formidable threat to us. In fact, one could guess that a war against Klein would be a smooth an easy one.

However, me must never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy. In yielding to war fever, we must realize that once the signal is given, we are no longer the masters of policy but the slaves of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events. Always remember, however sure you are that you could easily win, that there would not be a war if the other man did not think he also had a chance.

We shall go on to the end! We shall fight in Willkie, we shall fight at Lake Monroe and Lake Lemon, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the Arboretum and Dunn Meadow, we shall defend our livelihood, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight at the food courts, we shall fight in the computer labs, we shall fight in the Old Crescent and in both Swain East and Swain West, we shall fight in the Memorial Union.

We shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, my room or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then the Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by Admiral Barker's Fleet and Captain Skinner's Air Force, would carry on the struggle, until, in God's good time, the people of New Albany, with all their power and might, step forth to the rescue and the liberation of our people.

Upon this battle depends the survival of civilization. Upon it depends our own life and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us now. Klein knows that he will have to break us on our turf or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Bloomington may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands.

But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age, made more sinister, and perhaps more odious, by his refusal to wear deodorant. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if Indiana University, Facebook, and MySpace last for a thousand years, men will still say, 'This was their finest hour.'

In these early moments of chaos and confusion, we must not lose our resolve. Remain steadfast, comrades! Already am I assembling the greatest minds in modern mischief-making. Admiral Barker, Commandant Leshin, Captain Skinner, and Brigadier General Nieman and I have all separately organized our plans of attack.

Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.

Casualties will remain a likely possibility throughout the conflict, but the ingenuity of our leaders, as well as further developments in prank wartime technology, will ensure that losses will be minimal. Guerrilla warfare will assure our men can encase his resources in flavored gelatin. Already our scientists have drafted up technology involving the dispersal of candy shrapnel, and a top secret group is working towards the development of a dirty bomb: a mayonnaise bomb.

And now, I extend my offer to you, my beloved comrades: join us, or remain neutral, at least in the theater of combat. Refuse either, and it will be an act of betrayal.

Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger.

With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbound determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph. So help us God.

Alex C. DiBlasi